Back in March I reviewed the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I finished the rest of the trilogy earlier this month, and while neither of the later books quite lived up to everything that the first one had, overall I thought this trilogy was phenomenal. And it makes me very sad that Stieg Larsson is no longer with us, because I would have loved to read more Lisbeth Salander/Mikael Bloomkvist novels like he’d originally planned.

I have heard from friends who have read these books that they were too long. They are a touch on the long side, but I actually loved all the details, all the nuances of Swedish life and law. I listened to the audio books for all 3 of these novels, and I think Simon Vance’s readings were so involving that it helped overcome the length. And here is a SPOILER ALERT. I’ve tried to reveal as little as I can about the plot developments here, but some things just have to be mentioned.

In the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, 2 journalists are murdered in the midst of an expose of the sex trade in Sweden for Millennium magazine. Mikael Bloomkvist, along with everyone else at the magazine, launch into an investigation of their friends’ murders that leads them back to Lisbeth Salander and her past. Yes, finally learn about Lisbeth Salander’s past, and about the events she mysteriously refers to in the first book as “all the evil.” We learn about a huge conspiracy, a coverup, her serious mistreatment since childhood, and the aftereffects of her rape by/revenge on Nils Bjurman, her disgustingly perverted guardian. If the first novel was a crime thriller about a serial killer, the second novel is more like a political and underworld thriller. And from here on out in the trilogy, Lisbeth Salander, the character inspired by Pippi Longstocking, is center stage. These books are largely about her, and that’s when they’re at their best. She is an utterly fantastic heroine.

The last book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, is essentially a courtroom drama, tying up the cliffhanger from the end of book 2. I was waiting anxiously for the release of this final book in May, so it’s been a little while since I’ve finished the trilogy. And when it was over, I couldn’t start anything new for days; I needed time for my head to clear, to absorb the entire ride of this trilogy. In the last book, Lisbeth Salander is severely wounded and facing a trial. Mikael Bloomkvist works to prove her innocence and blow the conspiracy of her entire life wide open. Government officials of the highest rank get involved, and parts of this story feel like a spy movie. Lisbeth is still incredibly commanding, even though she’s in a hospital bed for half of this book.

Overall, I was absorbed in both books (and slightly more in the 2nd than the 3rd). My biggest issue is with the ending of the series. After the trial, the events felt a little muddled. It took some of the energy and urgency out of the entire trilogy, even though I wanted to know all I could about Lisbeth’s life and what happened to a certain villain in the story. It felt a little contrived and a little bit long. I’m not convinced that it did justice to the series.

But what a series.